By Rebekah Martin

Assistant Editor

Shani Dowdell didn’t grow up with her nose in a book like many authors. It wasn’t until she became a teenager that she truly discovered her love of reading and writing. Originally from Tuskegee, Dowdell has lived in various cities around the state, but now calls Opelika her home. Dowdell said Opelika is where she put down roots and has raised a family. It is also where she came to realize her dream of becoming an author.

It was because of a website called Black Expressions, now known as Double Day Book Club, an online forum, that Dowdell’s interest in literature was sparked. “All of the sudden, it was like these books were written to me,” Dowdell said. “I could identify with the characters, I knew who they were and could believe their stories.”

Dowdell said reading wasn’t something she was very interested in as a child, but that changed after reading the first 99 cent book she found online.  “I loved every book I got from Black Expressions,” Dowdell said. “I was reading works by black authors that I didn’t even know existed.” Author Darrien Lee is one that Dowdell read in the very beginning and is her favorite author to this day.

Dowdell soon realized that not only did she love to read, but that she had an affinity for writing the stories herself. “With my first novel, it was a long process,” Dowdell said. “It took me roughly two years to finish it.” Dowdell said “Secrets of a Kept Woman” was a labor of love. “I poured myself into this novel,” Dowdell said. “It felt like a part of me.”

When it came time to publish her work, Dowdell said she researched the process for months. “I was researching ways to get published back in 2005,” Dowdell said. “I found success with an online on demand printing company, but when their prices went up, it was no longer affordable. That’s where Nayberry came to the rescue.”

Dowdell is the founder and CEO of Nayberry Publications, a local publishing house. Nayberry has recently added three writers to its list of published authors, and Dowdell said she hopes to publish more in the near future. “My goal at Nayberry is to offer help to those who need it and a venue for authors to get their books out there,” Dowdell said.

In 2011, in an effort to aid other authors, Dowdell began creative writing seminars and forums of her own. She said she hopes to pass along the wisdom she has acquired to others who want to become published authors.

Through her involvement in the world of literature, Dowdell has become a major proponent of reading and writing. “I am so passionate about what I read and write now,” Dowdell said. “I want others to come to love literature like I have.”

Dowdell’s complete list of books can be found and purchased on or